To understand Samuel Adam’s character we have to recognize the importance his family had in shaping his personality.
Samuel was born in a wealthy, religious family that was also involved in politics. His family was well respected in the Massachusetts colony and was among the first settlers in New England. His father, Samuel Adams Sr. was born May 16, 1689 in Boston and Mary Fifield, his mother, was born May 7, 1694 in the same city. They married in 1713 and had twelve children. Samuel was their tenth child born. In an era of high infant mortality only three survived; older sister Mary, Samuel and younger brother Joseph.
His mother, Mary Adams, came from a respected Massachusetts family and was a devout and pious woman who passed her Puritan believes on to her children. She dressed modestly and stressed religious values and virtue on everyday life.
His father, Samuel Adams Sr., was as deacon of the Old South Church in Boston, ran a brewery and occupied a political post in the colony’s governing body. SA Sr. was a leader by nature. He became involved in politics through the Boston Caucus which is an organization that promoted candidates who supported popular causes and nominated them for offices. Later on he became a justice of the peace and a Boston representative to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He was one of the founders of the Country Party and had frequent meetings at his house. This exposed Samuel to politics and politicians since childhood.
His family had great influence in the man he became. His father wanted him to become a clergyman but he leaned towards law. He got his masters degree in Arts to practice law but and his mother did not want that career for his son. She convinced him to become a clerk in a counting house which is equivalent to a bank today. Eventually, after trying many ventures he found his own passion in politics.
In 1740 Samuel Adams Sr. and other investors attempted to establish a Land Bank in Massachusetts. They would lend money backed by land to foster investment and economic development in the colony. The Land Bank was popular and supported by the citizens as it would bring stability to the volatile currency. However, the British Parliament was opposed; they wanted the colony to remain economically dependent on the Kingdom and ruled the bank illegal in 1941. Those involved in the business became liable for the loans bringing the Adam’s family close to financial ruin. This situation affected Samuel profoundly; maybe it was the cause of his hostility and opposition to British law in the colony. It was a turning point in his life. He was forced to work while in university to support himself and his resistance to British rule became stronger, therefore his involvement in politics.
In 1748 Samuel’s father and mother died leaving him a large estate and the brewery business. He was left in charge of the family business and faced a number of lawsuits related to the Land bank controversy. He was unable to make ends meet as he only had a small income from his government job. Still, he defended his family estate from foreclosure by using his powerful writing in editorials and broadsides and by threatening potential buyers. The seizure by the government never materialized and he held on to his family estate. This situation reminded him constantly of the overpowering force of British law over the colony. Within a decade he had spent most of the money his parents left, he tried other unsuccessful jobs which lead him to politics full-time.
Adams Sr. built the ground for future generations of successful Adams that would shape politics in America.
In 1749 SA married his pastor’s daughter, Elizabeth Checkley. Together they had 6 children of which only two survived; Samuel and Hannah. In 1757 he lost his wife and seven years later he married Elizabeth Wells with whom he had no children.
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